Fiber Arts Virtual Exhibition 'The Ardent Thread' Takes a Novel Approach to Storytelling

Cynthia Lockhart, The Journey to Freedom (Detail)
“Threads themselves serve as a metaphor of interconnectivity and the weaving process, a way of binding back together the nature we have broken.” –Curator, Tony Williams

“The Ardent Thread” is an invitational, virtual exhibition focusing on textiles hosted by regional museums and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Curated by Cleveland fiber artist, Tony Williams, this free event will be held on Zoom Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm, and will include a video tour of the exhibition followed by a curators talk by Williams, brief artist statements and an interactive Q & A session.

What is “The Ardent Thread”? Williams explains: “It is charged, emotional, feverish, fiery, glowing, impassioned, intense, and personal. Nine artist express their love for fiber using traditional and non-traditional techniques. Thus creating extraordinary fiber art.” Williams studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburg and The Cleveland Institute of Art. He has an extensive resume as an exhibiting artist, educator, and has been a curator since 1998.

The nine artists mentioned are Phyllis Brody, Rebecca Cross, Aimee Lee, Cynthia Lockhart, Myrya Johnson, Char Norman, Jessica Pinsky (Executive Director of Praxis Fiber Workshop), Ron Shelton, and Anne Weissman.

The mottled techniques displayed in the exhibition are: weaving, quilting, embroidery, paper making, assemblage, and innovative mixed media work.

“We have all learned the craft of fiber for different reasons. Some of us learn because it is something passed down from generation to generation. Some of us learn out of necessity. Some of us learn for its beauty and skill and want to express our voice in these techniques. The group of artists exhibiting in 'The Ardent Thread' are all true masters. They express their love of their craft…creating extraordinary art as they intertwine their chosen thread into a life of its own,” says Williams.

Some of Cynthia Lockhart’s pieces in this show seem reminiscent of works from artists like Harriet Powers, Faith Ringgold, and Gwen T. Samuels. Her work also brings to mind the tradition of ‘the story quilt.’ Lockhart’s piece, “Journey to Freedom” depicts a woman with a knapsack on a trek through the woods towards the light of a candle. It speaks of her African ancestry and is a textile collage using a variety of materials weaving together a tale of someone’s quest toward emancipation filled with undoubted strife.

“Journey to Freedom” tells a story of hope and uncertainty with its use of vibrant colors and patterns, and a multitude of layered textures and a variety of materials such as leather, snake skin and beads. It is full of life and movement. It leaves the viewer feeling a sense of not only anxiety but also the exuberance found in the quilted patterns of an uncertain existence, yet with an end in sight.

A novel aspect of this exhibition is that the artists will accompany the work with interactive audio recordings in order to tell their oral histories, offering insight into their paths using fiber arts as a form of self-expression.

“How and why they use fiber to create and where that love of fiber comes from. The founders envisioned a “living archive” – a facility where archived artwork could be preserved, displayed, and studied by the public and scholars alike. The Archive would maintain a representative body of the artists’ work as well as documentation of their lives and careers as Ohio-based artists. Accordingly, the AAWR records oral histories, catalogs exhibition materials and collects related documents on Ohio artists.”

Williams discusses how fibers and textiles are part of our everyday existence throughout our life cycle: “Textiles hold a deep and powerful messages of who we are and where we have been. Textiles provide shelter, they are our second skin, comforting us from birth to death creating lasting memories of who we are were."

There are only 100 slots for the virtual opening but after this “The Ardent Thread” will be available on the Artists Archives Facebook page and about a week or so after the opening.

AAWR also currently has an open submission for their long-standing exhibition “NewNow,” which is a competitive art exhibition and multimedia/juried show which will be judged by Cat Sheridan the curator of The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus.

Originally scheduled for October of 2020, the “NewNow” exhibition will now tentatively be held on January of 2021 in Tri-C’s 3,000 sq. ft. Gallery East in Highland Hills. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, AAWR will be closed for the remainder of 2020. The entry fee to submit work for this show is $40 for 3 works and awards $1750 in prize money. All proceeds from the competition will fund the artist’s awards and benefit the Artists Archives. 
Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.